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The Classic

F/A-18A/B Hornet Aircraft in Australian Service

(3 customer reviews)
Authors: John Quaife
RAAF, History
220mm x 285mm

The CLASSIC F/A-18A/B Hornet Aircraft in Australian Service is one of the very best on aviation I have come across. It’s just gobsmackingly well-researched but reads incredibly well. The book is the absolute authority on the aircraft.’  – Adam Thorn, Editor, Australian Aviation Magazine

Selected in 1981 as the aircraft that would replace the Mirage IIIO as Australia’s new fighter, the F/A-18 Hornet would proceed to establish an un-equalled record of service as Australia’s most successful combat aircraft. Designed from the outset to deliver superior performance as an air-to-air fighter and a precision strike/attack aircraft, the Hornet, more than any other aircraft, has shaped today’s Royal Australian Air Force.

Entering service in 1985, the Classic Hornet, as it became known alongside later F/A-18 variants, would serve as the foundation capability for a generation of networked systems and air combat capabilities. Along the way it would be subjected to the largest and most complex upgrade program ever attempted, anywhere. The aircraft would also lead the way in two of the most significant applications of combat air power by Australian forces since the Vietnam War.

Now retired from service, the full story of Classic Hornet aircraft in Australian service can be told through the experiences of those who dedicated their efforts to make this platform serviceable, work effectively or to evolve. Classic Hornets were on the front-line of Australia’s combat capability for more than 36 years. The story of this remarkable warhorse is a story of evolution, incredible audacity, innovation, survival and persistence.

John Quaife

John Quaife

John Quaife grew up in Melbourne and as a kid just loved military aviation. He lived the dream. John spent 28 years with Royal Australian Air Force as a fighter pilot. He is a graduate of the RAAF’s ‘top gun’ training course who went on to become one of Australia’s most senior military commanders. John […]

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3 reviews for The Classic

  1. Down Under Aviation News reviewed this book in 2023. Having read this book the story takes the reader deep into the RAAF’s Hornet history. It has exceptional insights into how the RAAF assessed, selected, introduced into use, operated, and how the aircraft became an iconic public favourite – the Classic Hornet The book details so many aspects that the public will likely have never seen or read before and this takes you into selection process, the early years of flying, the personnel who flew and maintained the fleet, upgrades undertaken and the combat missions in the Middle Eastern Hornets undertook over the last 2 decades of service. This book is highly recommended for all aviation enthusiasts and historians.

  2. Author John Quaife is well qualified to tell the story of the RAAF’s classic F/A 18s, having been a Hornet pilot himself, commander of No. 77 Sqn, and
    subsequently an Air Vice-Marshal and Air Commander Australia. He provides the reader with an insider’s view tracing the testing, acceptance, deployment and eventual retirement of the aircraft, all with a professional eye which tempers an obvious affection for the Hornet and the people who flew and maintained it, with a no-nonsense analysis of the successes and shortfalls involved in the aircraft’s career with the RAAF.

  3. The Classic is a splendid piece of work, and a fitting tribute to what was at the time the ‘biggest ever’ Defence acquisition by Australia (p.199). John Quaife ably demonstrates how the ‘classic’ F/A 18 exceeded expectations, and how it thoroughly deserves a secure place in the annals of the nation’s military history.

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